Author Archives: Tanya

Holiday Peppermint Bark

I love this stuff.  It is so easy to make, and wrapped up all pretty it makes a great gift.  It is much easier and cheaper to make then buy from Harry and David, Williams-Sonoma, etc.  I prefer dark chocolate but feel free to use any kind you like; some people use only white chocolate.  Also adding a drop of peppermint extract or oil gives it a nice kick. – ts

chocolate- any kind you like; can be a bar or chips
white chocolate- any kind you like; can be a bar or chips
24 mini candy canes, crushed by hand

  1. Line the bottom of a 9×13 pan with parchment paper.
  2. Add chocolate to microwave safe bowl and microwave in increments of 30 seconds stirring the chips each time until chocolate has completed melted and mixture is smooth or melt chocolate using double bowl method.
  3. Spread melted chocolate  as evenly as possibly into lined pan, make sure that it is not too thick.
  4. Place pan into freezer for 20 minutes.  Repeat the same melting process with the white chips.   While chocolate is still smooth, stir in half of the crushed candy cane mixture.  Allow the white chocolate to slightly cool for a minute.
  5. Remove pan from freezer and spread white chocolate/crushed candy canes mixture on top of the chocolate layer.  Spread white chocolate as quickly as possible. Top off with remaining crushed candy cane and gently pat down with the back of a spatula.  Return pan to freezer for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from freezer and gently lift the whole mixture from the pan with a butter knife.  Remove parchment paper and break into pieces. Stores nicely in freezer or up to one week in refrigerator.

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Filed under Christmas, Dessert, Party food, Special Occasion, Sweets

Vegetable Garlic Herb Lentils

With the colder weather finally creeping in down here, I have really been into hearty warming meals.  Lentils are my latest thing.  I have cooked them a lot of different ways, but this one is definitely the best.  It needs a bit more attention then just simmering in liquid because this recipe cooks it risotto style.  The outcome is amazing, and you won’t even notice that it is extremely heathy too!  I served these along a rack of lamb (cooked with same herbs), and it was the perfect combination.  Sorry the picture shows the lamb more then the lentils. – ts

3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 cup Beluga lentils (or French green lentils)
1 bay leaf
1 cup red wine
2 cups chicken stock
Sea salt and pepper
1 full sprig fresh rosemary
3 large cloves garlic, sliced

  1. In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil for one minute over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot, and sauté the vegetables until they are softened, 10 minutes.
  2. Add the lentils, sliced garlic, rosemary and bay leaf and sauté for 3-5 minutes more, coating all the lentils. Increase the heat and add the red wine. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring, until the mixture becomes dry.
  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the chicken stock to a simmer, then turn off the heat and cover to keep warm. Add the warm chicken stock to the lentils (like cooking a risotto) 1/2 a cup at a time, letting the lentils absorb the liquid with each addition. Repeat, stirring the mixture constantly. After 30 minutes or so the lentils should be slightly chewy and tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Filed under Beans, Comfort food, Main Course, Party food, Side dishes, Veggies

Crawfish Cornbread Stuffing

So I probably should have posted these recipes last week before Thanksgiving, but I forgot and I wanted to test them out twice to get all kinks out of the way.  I was lucky to have two Thanksgivings this year, a “friendsgiving” down in NOLA (which was way better then my family Thanksgiving) and family Thanksgiving.  I still never want to eat again.   Below is an amazing crawfish stuffing that Chef John’s family has requested a double batch of for next year.  Perhaps you can save in your Thanksgiving recipe file for next year or break it out for the December holidays!  Chef’s note: make sure to use dry corn bread so it soaks up all the sauce. – ts

Chef John Says: Everyone knows that the best part of Thanksgiving is the stuffing. I usually dedicate about 3/4 of my plate to it. My family always has a traditional stuffing/dressing but this past Sunday we had a pre-Thanksgiving feast at our friend’s house in New Orleans and it was decided that we should make a more NOLA-style dressing. Tanya came across this beauty: Besh’s Crawfish Corn Bread Dressing. Like ALL of Besh’s recipes, this is very easy and delicious.
You can make the corn bread ahead or use leftover corn bread. In fact, the dressing may be prepared a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator until an hour before serving. I used more andouille, hot sausage, and garlic than it calls for… obviously. This recipe makes 8–10 cups, more than enough to stuff a turkey, but at our Thanksgiving we stuff our bird separately and serve dressings like this alongside. Serves 10

4 tablespoons rendered bacon fat (I used a couple tablespoons of butter instead)
¼ pound andouille sausage, diced
¼ pound hot pork sausage meat, removed from casing
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups peeled crawfish tails, chopped (you can usually find a package of frozen tails)
2 green onions, chopped
1 small jalapeño pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
2 tablespoons Basic Creole Spices
6 cups crumbled Basic Corn Bread
2 cups Basic Chicken Stock
½ cup heavy cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Put the bacon fat, andouille, and pork sausage into a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the pork with the back of a wooden spoon.
  2. When the pork sausage meat has browned, add the onions, celery, bell peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the crawfish and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the sausage and crawfish and stir together until well combined. Spoon the dressing into a large heatproof dish.
  4. At this point, the dressing may be covered and refrigerated (for up to 1 day) until you are ready to bake it. Bake the dressing in a preheated 350° oven until it is piping hot and golden brown, 15–30 minutes.

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Filed under Bread, Cajun food, Comfort food, Meat, Party food, Shellfish, Side dishes, Southern food, Special Occasion, Thanksgiving

Deviled Eggs

It is holiday season which means lots of family and friends entertaining.  It is always nice to have an easy but tasty appetizer to either serve or bring to a dinner party.  I love me some deviled eggs, and it is so simple to make.  There are tons of recipes out there and different variations (I recommend trying Martha’s Avocado Deviled Eggs).  I personally love straight forward mayo, mustard, egg style deviled eggs.  Nothing fancy in this recipe!  This one is courtesy of a good friend down in NOLA, Chef Anne.  She served these one time, and I seriously think I ate a dozen.  I made these last night, and Chef John and Claire (Mexican corn lover and daughter of the famous Peg from Peg’s Destin Shrimps) gave this recipe the the thumbs up!- ts

Chef Anne’s note:  You can boil the eggs and make the mixture a few hours in advance, store it in the frdige, and then put it all together right before people are ready to eat them.  Also, I use small eggs because they are more bite-size

1 dozen eggs
2 teaspoons dijon mustard (Zataran’s creole mustard is best)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp minced shallot
dashes of hot sauce (perhaps Sriracha!)
Salt and pepper
Paprika and Green Onion for garnish

  1. Hard boil the eggs.  Fill up a large saucepan half-way with water and gently add the eggs. Cover the eggs with at least an inch of water. Add a teaspoon of vinegar to the water.  Add a pinch of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil. Cover, and remove from heat. Let sit covered for 12-15 minutes. Drain hot water from pan and run cold water over the eggs. (At this point if you crack the egg shells while the eggs are cooling, it will make it easier to peel the shells.) Let sit in the cool water a few minutes, changing the water if necessary to keep it cool.  If you kinda roll the eggs on the counter, the shells get all cracked and are a little easier to peel.
  2. Peel the eggs. Using a sharp knife, slice each egg in half, lengthwise. Gently remove the yolk halves and place in a small mixing bowl. (Egg yolks come out really easily, just kinda use a spoon and gently pop them out into the bowl).  Arrange the egg white halves on a serving platter.
  3. Using a fork, mash up the yolks and add mustard, mayonnaise, shallot, tabasco, chopped green onions (same some for on top) and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon egg yolk mixture into the egg white halves. (You can also use like a cake decorator thing, but I just kinda wing it…) Sprinkle with paprika and chopped green onions.
Optional: add chopped herbs to the mixture

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Filed under Appetizers, Comfort food, Party food, Snacks

Happy Birthday RipleyPickles!!

I thought bacon birthday cake would be appropriate for RipleyPickles’ day of birth.  You may want to consider drizzling one of the Chef’s sauces over it as well for extra nummy-ness…. 
Here is a recipe for Bacon Cream Cheese Frosting, feel free to use your own chocolate cake or cupcake recipe with it.   Happy Birthday!! -ts

2 strips bacon, cooked crispy
1/4 cup butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
about 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon honey

  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese for the frosting
  2. Add the honey, and gradually add in the confectioner’s sugar until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Crumble one of the bacon strips and beat it into the frosting
  3. Spread frosting on cake or cupcakes. Crumble the remaining bacon strip, and sprinkle on top

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Filed under Comfort food, Dessert, Party food, Special Occasion, Sweets

Wild Mushroom and Leek Wild Rice Salad

I have not posted in a while, but that is because I have not been making new recipes recently.  We have so many great recipes on this site, and I had fallen into a trap of cooking the same 4 or 5 things because they are so tasty.   Yesterday I decided to browse my list of “to make” recipes and came across one that for months I kept meaning to make.  When it came down to buying the ingredients, it always just looked a little too healthy.  Since the holidays are around the corner, I thought it best to start getting the health in now.  This is a recipe for mushroom and leek wild rice I saw on Closet Cooking, with my own tweaks.  It is so tasty and surprisingly filling.  It reminds me of a healthier version of my mushroom and leek risotto recipe!  I highly recommend making this.  I served the rice over a bed of baby greens and added a couple slices of skirt steak for extra protein (quickly marinated in a soy, garlic, onion, sugar mixture and grilled).  
Wild rice takes longer to cook then regular rice so start it first!  The mushroom, leek, herb, rice mixture is tossed with balsamic vinaigrette.  Feel free to use your favorite recipe, I wrote down a standard one below.– ts

1 cup wild rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
2 – 3 leeks green and white parts cleaned and sliced
2 cloves garlic
8- 10 ounces mushrooms (sliced) – I used a mix of cremini, shiitake and oyster
1 teaspoon thyme (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
a large handful chopped pecans
about a 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below)

  1. Simmer the wild rice in the broth on medium-low heat, covered, until it is tender and it has absorbed all of the broth, about 50-60 minutes and remove from heat.  Drain excess liquids.
  2. Heat the oil and melt the butter in a large dutch oven/pan.
  3. Add the leeks and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  5. Add the mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper and saute until the mushrooms are just starting to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes.
  6. Mix the wild rice, mushrooms, pecans and balsamic vinaigrette
Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1-2 large cloves garlic minced
chopped herbs (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. Mix/shake everything together

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Filed under Main Course, Rice, Salad dressings, Side dishes, Veggies

Three Bean Salad

Everyone has their redneck guilty pleasure right?  I believe RipleyPickles is canned smoked oysters.  I secretly (well not so secret anymore) love me some canned three bean salad.  I normally hate canned anything, except three bean salad .  The only thing canned foods are good for is your Mayan 2012 End of the World emergency kit and Thanksgiving food drives.   I have seen fancy three bean salad in jars at gourmet food stores, but I still think it contains loads of sodium, preservatives and additives.  I decided it is time to make my own!  I scoured my cookbooks and the internets for a good recipe.  I think I came up with the closest thing to canned.  – ts

3 quarts water
1 tablespoon table salt
8 ounces green beans, ends snapped, snapped or cut into one-inch pieces
8 ounces yellow/wax beans, same
1 can kidney beans rinsed and drained (fresh beans were just too time consuming so used canned whoops!)
1/2 a red onion, diced small
3/4 cup red vinegar
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and the beans, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, until tender-crisp. Blanch them in ice water and let drain for at least 10 minutes and more if needed.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the cooked green, wax and kidney beans and onion.
  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine the vinegar, oil and sugar. Bring it to a boil on the stove. Remove it immediately, and pour it over the beans and onions. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Let marinade in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

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Filed under Appetizers, Beans, Salad, Side dishes, Veggies